additional texmf tree for all users (was Re: [OS X TeX] Beginner help with TeXshop/MacTex needed)

Rowland McDonnell rjmm-lists1 at
Tue Aug 29 14:29:50 CEST 2006

> On Aug 26, 2006, at 12:56 , Rowland McDonnell wrote:
> > (I am very worried about i-installer overwriting my data - in my
> > previous attempt to install and use a modern Mac TeX (before MacTeX
> > was put together; I tried using i-installer, and abandoned the
> > attempt after some weeks of trying to crack it), I did find that
> > i-installer threw away several hundred megabytes of data I'd
> > downloaded (mostly via my dialup line), which did make me pretty
> > unhappy.  It's not safe software to use if you ask me - I intend to
> > do a full backup before I run i-installer, *every* time I run it. 
> > I have the disc space to do so now.)
> It is generally better for me to ignore messages/threads like this,  

<rolls eyes>

> but for the record I want to state that the TeX i-Package does not  
> overwrite *any* data, except what is in /usr/local/teTeX (and even  
> not everything there:

In other words, the TeX i-package overwrites the region where all the
texmf trees are kept.

You've expressed yourself in a very misleading fashion.

Is this documented anywhere?  I'd like to be able to find out this sort
of thing myself, you see.

And what about the other i-packages?

> unless you explicitely tell the TeX i-Package  
> when uninstalling TeX, it will leave texmf.local alone), so if you  
> want your data overwritten you will first personally have to move you  
> stuff there.

I find this confusing.

How do you `tell' the TeX i-Package to leave or not leave texmf.local

Now, it seems at first glance that the sensible way of getting a local
texmf tree accessible to all users is to put it somewhere in:


but since an i-installer might mess about with it, it seems to me that a
more sensible approach would be to put it in a directory that no
i-installer would think of looking it.

Or could one create a directory (say) 


and be reasonably sure that no i-installer package would touch it?

> The data the TeX i-Package overwrites/removes in /usr/local/teTeX it  
> *has* to if you do not want to risk a nonfunctional mess of old and  
> updated TeX when you update your i-Package and install it again  
> (think about a renamed subdirectory, like 'dstroke' being renamed to  
> 'doublestroke' and you would install doublestroke but not remove  
> dstroke, which file would be used by TeX? I am not able to tell you)

So the TeX i-Package deletes some data and adds others.  Of course.  How
would a maintainer of a TeX installation on a Mac discover what is going
to happen on running an update?

> What i-Installer *can* remove or overwrite is if you thin or update  
> your i-Package (in ~/Documents/i-Packages normally) and you *always*  
> get a warning panel before any of that will happen. My guess is that  
> this happened to you May last year, 

Your guess is as wrong as wrong can be - as I have explained several
times recently.  It's a shame you've not believed me, since you're the
person who's supposed to make sure i-installer is safe to use.

What i-installer did was downloaded a large amount of data in multiple
packages.  I did not install it - I just grabbed the packages.  I then
tried to grab another one, and whoosh!  All the previously downloaded
data had been deleted.

There was *NO WARNING AT ALL*.  There was no installation.  Just
downloads, and data loss.

>that you painstakingly downloaded  
> the TeX i-Package over a slow link and it got updated on the  
> reprository and you had to download it all over again when you  
> accepted the upgrade.When you accepted the upgrade, it did not tell  
> you that you had to download it all again. Which was bad luck, bcause  
> those upgrades are not that often. TeX is huge, and if it changes the  
> re-downloads are huge too. There is currently not much I can do about  
> that.

I'm afraid I do not understand the above paragraph.

> Having said that, it kind of irks me that this message (which could  
> scare people without there being a good reason for them to be  
> scared).

What irks me is that you are insistent on not believing what I tell you,
and you insist that what happened was something other than what actually

> None of what was removed/overwritten was your personal data  
> (but only inside the TeX i-Package) nor was any of it destructive for  
> your system or purpose. You just had to let i-Installer download the  
> updated version.
> > Since i-installer does blindly over-write things without warning -  
> > well,
> > of *course* it'll delete data you want to keep.
> i-Installer does not blindly over-write anything without warning and  
> since it is open source people could check.

Yes, but I have no reason to believe you.

> Rowland, please download  
> the sources from SourceForge and tell me where it does so

Don't be ridiculous.  You know perfectly well that I cannot check your
source code.  You also know that your claims about what I did are purely
your invention - frankly, you're trying to harm my reputation.

What I'm telling you is that i-installer threw away a lot of my data.
You have chosen to disbelieve my report.  Of course I dare not use your
software - it's not safe.

> and I'll  
> eat humble pie and thank you for helping me fix the program. Until  
> then, it would be friendly to refrain from making these remarks.

I think it would be sensible of you to stop insisting on your guess as
to what happened, and pay some attention to my reports.

> As written above, the TeX i-Package (and other i-Packages) *have* to  
> remove previous installs before installing a new one because the  
> merger would be a (potential nonfunctional) mess.

Yes, but as written above, I had not installed anything at all at the
time i-installer removed *ALL* the downloaded but uninstalled

> For the rest, I advise people to read
> as we are seeing the beginning of a repeat here and those that do not  
> know the past are doomed to repeat it.

<sigh>  Yes, thank you ever so much for dredging up ancient history.  I
must say that helps a great deal.

Your deliberately unhelpful approach last year did indeed succeed in
persuading me to give up in my attempt to install a modern TeX - you did
well there.

Karl Berry said this to me on comp.text.tex recently (I take it you know
the name?)


From: "Karl Berry" <karl at>
Newsgroups: comp.text.tex
Subject: Re: Help needed configuring teTeX
Date: 27 Aug 2006 09:31:39 -0700
Lines: 16
Message-ID: <1156696299.069601.177620 at>

Hi Rowland,

The purpose of MacTeX is to be easy to install.  It is intentional that
there are essentially no questions and customization -- our hope is
that non-expert Mac users will then be able to install TeX.  I am not
surprised that an expert like yourself finds it frustrating.



I advise people to read the newsgroup comp.text.tex just to see what I'm
like in a civilised forum full of helpful people; it doesn't seem to
have any of the flamers inhabiting this forum, for example.

Specifically, this thread:

NNTP-Posting-Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2006 07:35:08 -0500
Newsgroups: comp.text.tex
Subject: Help needed configuring teTeX
From: real-address-in-sig at flur.bltigibbet (Rowland McDonnell)
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2006 13:34:56 +0100
Message-ID: <1hkoihd.1yd5fm69cxx8gN%real-address-in-sig at flur.bltigibbet>

Unlike my experiences on this mailing list, as soon as I requested help
with my MacTeX problem on comp.text.tex, I got instantly helpful
suggestions which I've followed to help me get things sorted out.

What I got here instead was flamage and people telling me not to do what
I wanted to do.

I've had a lot more help from that newsgroup to get me started with
MacTeX than I've had from this mailing list.

What does that say about this forum, I wonder?  Perhaps my idea that I'm
being reasonable and I'm getting a lot of really quite unpleasant
replies is spot on - since comp.text.tex has helped me so readily?


And perhaps I should post some of Gerben's private emails to me to this
list, just so that people can see how insulting, supercilious, and
unhelpful you are in private?

Or perhaps, instead of dredging up ancient arguments, we could just try
to deal with the issues in front of us now?

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